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  • Writer's pictureMarianne Lomberg

Creating in an upside-down reality

I live in a country under lockdown.

As I write this, the clock strikes midnight and South Africa enters its third week of police and army enforced stay-home orders for all but essential workers with permits. And when I say "enforced", I mean it. Cyclists, joggers and beggars have been arrested. A man who tested positive and didn't self-isolate was charged with attempted murder.

Attempted Murder.

And the charge was appropriate. In a country with high levels of poverty, where sanitation and self-isolation are a luxury that a significant part of the population simply can't afford, allowing COVID-19 to take hold will be a death sentence for tens of thousands.

We're being told to stay home because the alternative is death.

But how do you create in a world turned upside-down? How do you find your rhythm against doom's hammering?

For me, the answer shifts a little every day, but two anchors are emerging: allowing more, and sharing more.

When I sit down to write at the moment, nothing happens if I try to force myself into the mood needed for a particular scene. Instead, I have to allow myself to write something that resonates for me on the day. It means I'm not writing the chapters in my current book in order, but jumping to a scene where the characters can draw on what is already in my heart. It's made me start a second book, in a whole new genre, because some days that is the only thing I feel I can achieve.

But as much as I expected my writing pattern to change somehow, the second anchor came as a surprise. In a time when we're forced apart, I've started sharing my writing more than ever. In fact, I've started writing for the purpose of sharing it immediately. Until now, a manuscript has needed to be in third or fourth draft before even my beta readers were allowed to see it. Now I'm doing a quick continuity check and sending it, a fraction of a chapter at a time, to friends who like the story. I'm building their feedback into scenes as I go, weaving them into the story as it grows. I'm writing fan-fiction with fury, because every time I publish a piece, people in difficult situations across the world find a smile, or a moment of escape, and tell me that.

My book is due to be published in September, and had I been writing normally, these weeks of enforced quiet could have pulled the publication date forward by a month.

But that's not my rhythm right now. And my book, when you read it, will be richer for the lives weaved into its pages in this upside-down time.

Now I must run. I have a friend waiting for a chapter.

How has your creative rhythm changed? I'd love to hear!

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1 commentaire

14 mars 2021

Yes, creativity for me cannot be forced. The kind of discipline people advocate of creating a bit every day, making it a daily habit doesn't work for me. Yes, you need routine for work. Yes, certain techniques require regular practice and those will give you wings to fly when the time is right.

Go for it!

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